“A farmer went out to sow” – Psalm 65: 5,9, St Matthew 13:3
“Confidence is everything. Confidence is key.” – panellist, Any Questions?
Today is Sea Sunday, an appropriate day to consider the voyage of the ark of salvation that is the church, tasked with carrying all aboard safely through the stormy waters of life but having to move in isolated and separate ways as the Coronavirus pandemic continues. There are other voyages to consider, too: those undertaken by seafarers who have continued to bring food and hard goods into the country as well as PPE for those who need it whilst facing lengthy separation from their families, worry about their welfare and possible quarantine on return as Covid-19 takes its course. Those who protect our shores, face hazardous passage, work on oil rigs in the North Sea, fish the disputed waters or come in lifeboats to help those in distress – we are so dependent on the sea and all who earn their living from it, whether or not we live close to it.
These particular key workers, often unseen and taken for granted, remind us of the host of those who have continued to work through the ongoing pandemic so that people in need may find the care, support and supplies necessary to them. Public appreciation has often been shown by using a rainbow and it’s sometimes forgotten that this sign of hope is originally the symbol of God’s care and promise to all living things – not just humanity. In Genesis 9, Noah, his family and many animals had to be shielded in the Ark for many weeks whilst many people died in the chaos that overwhelmed the world and it was a dove with olive leaves in its beak – now a symbol of peace – which showed Noah that the floods had receded and the trees were reappearing. His story tells us that, after they all ventured out again, Noah planted a vineyard and got so drunk on its wine that his sons had to rescue him – as so many had died and after so much had been demanded of him, perhaps Noah found it difficult to adjust to the new way of life that was then required. That may apply to us today and, although there is still a great risk and safety procedures are vital, perhaps we shouldn’t be too judgemental about all those who are now rushing to the pubs and beaches after their own time of confinement, mixed emotions and release. Each of us will have to make our own decisions for our own way of life and, as Noah’s story shows that he found it difficult to adjust sensibly, so may many of us.
The above extracts from the psalm and Gospel set for today remind us that, whatever the circumstances of the weather and climate change or the turmoil in the world then or now, there will always need to be farmers or gardeners sowing crops and workers willing to toil on behalf of others if resources are to be gathered, used and shared. That has been shown by so many throughout the pandemic and will continue to be necessary in the days ahead. As well as food, what is being sown is hope, faith and trust – perhaps doubt, worry and other concerns too – which is why confidence is also key. The word means ‘with trust or faith’ – whether in human nature or the love of God, faith, trust and hope will be much needed in the uncertain passage which still lies before us all, even though we’ve already come so far. The attached photo of a double rainbow seen here after a storm shows that only a part of it was visible at the time, just as we currently only see some and not all of what we may be facing as individuals, communities and nations while restrictions ease still further. But, whatever the circumstances, the rainbow remains a symbol of hope and God’s promise of new beginnings – in whom or what do you have or need confidence today?
With my prayers,
Diocesan prayer for the week
Loving God, we have learned in these times to value the ministry of many whose work was before almost invisible to us, but on which our lives and sustenance depend. In humility we give thanks for the unseen care and labour which maintains our way of life. We pray that our society will value all workers as we should, not merely in words and gestures, but with respect and proper recompense; for it was in the form of a willing servant that Jesus showed his love and care for us. Amen. Canon Carol Wardman